Peggy Bechko’s World: Constructive or Destructive Criticism?

destructionby Peggy Bechko

All right readers and writers, gather around. This isn’t going to be a whiny rant about how people are mean to writers and how their criticism is the pits (though at times it can be), but a bit of a quick analysis of the situation and how everyone, readers and writers alike can deal with it.

Look, constructive criticism is a good thing and writers should get over their ire at having anything they create criticized by anybody. Hey, that’s life. And, constructive criticism can point out flaws or maybe a bit of a slip in editing that would, when corrected, make the book, short story or article much better. Really.

Oh, and readers who post criticism, think about how you couch it. You’re entitled to your opinions and of course if there are glaring editing or grammatical errors in a work you might want to point out that’s happening so other readers will be aware, but it can be put in language that isn’t a personal attack.

You might feel the urge to be a ripsaw, but curb it. Remember that writer, whoever it is, put a lot of thought and work into the project. Because it isn’t up to certain standards now doesn’t mean the writer isn’t striving to improve and will, indeed improve. Helpful criticism is one thing, an all-out attack is another.

Think about it. Does attack make you in some way feel good? What if your work, whatever it is, was attacked with a vicious edge and you were left feeling naked and abused? You might consider, even with a poorly written work, turning your own thoughts around and saying something encouraging instead. Or just plain shut up.

If you have to point out a flaw, maybe you can point out a good thing as well. Maybe the book needs a lot of typo fixing but the story itself is interesting, just hard to see through all those errors. Pause and reflect. Just sayin’.

Okay, now writers, it’s your job to write well, to edit like a pro and cut mercilessly so you don’t surround your readers with needless fluff. It’s also a fact of life that no matter how good you get, no matter how well-known, you’re going to get those personal attacks and not just criticism for the obvious typos or grammar errors. Sadly, it comes with the territory.

BUT you don’t have to let that get you down. Of course they’re going to find the typos you miss no matter how hard you try and the grammar slip-ups and the story twist that didn’t quite do the pirouette you planned on. Take it with good grace when they’re pointed out and correct or you can decide their point isn’t valid. Up to you as writer.

Of course there’s going to be the ‘nasty’ out there who lives to do nothing more than try to tear others down. You don’t have to buy into it. Let the moment pass. You already know there’s no critic out there who can be harder on you than you are on yourself.

Forgive the nasties, you don’t know what they may be dealing with that creates the inner demons who just want to attack and destroy. And if you can’t forgive them, cultivate your own positive attitude and don’t bother to respond.

Writers keep writing. Keep moving forward. Readers enjoy and give an occasional thought to the person behind the writing.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. This article was first published on her sensational blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.